Black Rock Gear: UL Down Hat

 The Ultimate Down Hat from Black Rock Gear

I own a lot of hiking hats: hats with bills to keep the sun off my head and the rain off my glasses and hats to stay warm at night and that I can draw down over my eyes to keep out the light. Hats are a key components of my thermo-regulation system and I am always putting them on or taking them off depending on my level of exertion.

The fact is that I never go hiking or backpacking in the mountains near my home without a warm beanie, even in summer. It can snow year round in my part of New England at higher elevations. I can’t wear wool hats because they make my head itch, even if they are lined, so I’ve gotten used to wearing polypro hats or windstopper fleece hats that are soft, comforting, and keep me warm.

That is, until I met Evan Cabodi from Black Rock Gear, a new cottage manufacturer of down winter hats that’s appeared on the ultralight gear scene.

Evan’s hats are special and unique in the industry because they’re made with 900 fill power down. This makes them really warm and really lightweight, weighing under an once (my medium weighs just under 21 grams.)

Like most cottage manufacturers, Evan is fanatical about the materials and workmanship of his products. For example, I was showing the sewing to my wife last night and she started gushing about the special stitching Evan uses for durability and to keep any down from leaking.

I’ve been using one of Evan’s hats for a few months and now that it’s gotten really chilly in the mountains, it’s my goto day-to-day and hiking hat. I even wear it at home in the office!

When I first got it, I was a bit leary about wearing a down hat and I was concerned about the down getting wetted out by sweat or external precipitation. Not to worry. The hat has a built-in headband made out of Dry-tec which wicks any sweat off of your head. The hat’s shell is made out of Momentum-MR 90, which comes with a high quality DWR treatment and is the stuff you find on a lot of higher-end sleeping bags.

The Ultimate Down Hat makes a great Christmas Gift

Now for the really important stuff. This hat comes in PURPLE – my wife has demanded one for Christmas already.

The Ultimate Down Hat also comes in royal blue, agean blue (darker), beige, red, grey green, and black. All of these colors are not listed on the Black Rock Gear site, but Evan sent me the fabric swatches for them, and I’m sure he’ll make one up for you if you contact him through his site. That’s the beauty of buying products from a cottage manufacturer. Evan is also willing to add custom features to the product for you, like a built in stuff sack on the interior of the hat or an external one which I have.

So check out out Black Rock Gear and get yourself a special hat this winter.

Disclosure: Black Rock Gear provided SectionHiker.com with a complementary hat for this review.

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12 Responses to Black Rock Gear: UL Down Hat

  1. Hendrik M October 4, 2009 at 6:06 am #

    Thanks for bringing this company to my attention, I was looking for a lightweight hat for the winter, and this suits the bill. Shipping is a very reasonable $6 to Finland, so I'm going to get my order in soon, to be prepared for the winter!

  2. Dave Hollin October 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    a down hat……dammit that looks really good! I think I might be able to stretch to buy one of those, especially with winter coming on :)

  3. Carver October 4, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    I got one of the Black Rock down hats last winter. What a great piece of gear. Just what I had been looking for.

  4. Kelly October 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    I saw this blog and immediately bought one. Evan from Black Rock is great! The hat fits me perfectly. I can't wait to use it this winter. Thanks for sharing!

  5. bryan Gough October 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    I just ordered mine. I've been looking for something like this for a LONG time! Thanks.

  6. Earlylite October 19, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    I'm very happy to hear that. It's important for us to support cottage manufacturers like Evan.

  7. Jolly Green Giant January 3, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    I wanted to ask you how your Blackrock was holding up.

    Like others, I purchased one after you mentioned it. I'm just not sure if I like it. To me it seems drafty. I'm debating which to bring with me in cold conditions when it is compared to beanies including: possum-down, micro merino wool, standard merino wool, fleece, fleece with windstopper, etc. I feel the heat of the Blackrock when indoors, but when outside in the slightest breeze it feels slightly drafty and I'm uncertain of the warmth it will retain. I should mention that several of the hats I listed feel drafty in a breeze, so that might just be the norm.

    When I hike in cold conditions I find that the most important thing for me is to keep my ears covered. This is espectially true when windy as my ears feel very uncomfortable when exposed to long term breezes.

    Unfortunately, a regular hat, even the lightest, isn't often needed despite it being winter. Last year when I was out in the teens I wore the windstopper fleece and it worked fine while moving and actually had ice crystals on it. When I camped I put on something warmer.

  8. Earlylite January 3, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Good question. In winter, I mostly climb mountains on my hikes and I sweat a lot. Since it's normally windy and cold as hell, where I hike, I usually wear a balaclava. I find that this is the best insulator for me because it prevents heat loss at the neck, just like a glove gauntlets protect your wrists.

    If it's warm, I replace it with a fleece hat which is somewhat wicking and warm and covers my ears. But if I heat up, I uncover my ears to vent more heat. When the fleece hat gets soaked as it often does, I put on my balaclava over it to limit heat loss due to convection.

    The Black Rock is a very warm hat but it does not wick that well because the outer shell is made of momentum and slick. Therefore, I mainly wear it in my sleeping bag, in camp, at home (we keep the house cool) and when I'm commuting, when I'm not sweating but need to retain maximum heat. I can also see using it for ice climbing during a belay when you are standing around and need something very warm that will fit under a helmet. I haven't tried that this year yet, but my hiking partner who is a hard-as-nails ice climber would love to see me try.

  9. Bryce September 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Hrmmm…I recently considered this hat as well, actually their new model the Haldron.

    I already have a JRB 2oz Balaclava to pair with my quilt. I just couldn't find a place where either of these hats fit.

    When I'm hiking, I have a spandex beanie from Mountain Hardware. When I'm exerting myself, my head is the first regulation point and I often find I don't need much up there.

    Then when it gets cold in camp, I agree, the balaclava is a great way to lock in heat, especially with my quilt sleep system.

    is this your go to hat these days? Has it ever gotten drenched?

  10. Earlylite September 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    It all depends on the weather. I usually use the Black Rock Hat as part of my sleep system for cold weather and winter backpacking/mountaineering, but I use 100 weight fleece hats when I'm exerting (in cold weather) unless I'm above treeline when I usually switch to a balaclava and/or neoprene facemask. Never had one soak out, but usually don't wear it when I've very active.

  11. Dennis Mau January 1, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    I bought a Blackrock Down hat because while hiking my head is always cold partly because I have no hair. I found my $15.00 Mountain Hardware is less drafty and warmer. The fleece hat keeps my core warmer also. In my opinion the Blackrock is definitely not worth it’s $60.00 price tag or 4X the price of the fleece.

  12. Dennis Mau January 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    I just bought a Mad Bomber hat at Cabella’s with real rabbit fur and deerskin outer and it is twice as warm as this skimpy down hat. You can keep this one. HaHa!

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